Nature photographer Susan Middleton reveals the lives of sea creatures without backbones in ‘Spineless’

Nature photographer Susan Middleton presents a slide program from her recently published book, “Spineless: Portraits of Marine Invertebrates, The Backbone of Life,” at 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2, at Village Books, 1200 11th St.

Middleton blends science and art to reveal the hidden beauty and remarkable diversity of sea creatures without backbones. The result of seven years of fieldwork across the Pacific Ocean, and showcasing photographic techniques Middleton developed over the past three decades, the volume presents more than 250 portraits of ocean dwellers. Middleton visually isolates each creature to best capture its individual character and to spotlight the dazzling natural blueprints among marine invertebrates.

An endless array of remarkable designs parades across the pages of “Spineless,” including resplendent sea cucumbers, ethereal jellies and otherworldly nudibranchs. From the stubby squid to the frilled anemone to the white phantom crab, the images open readers’ eyes to the species’ fragility and resiliency.

Middleton is a photographer, author and lecturer specializing in portraiture of rare and endangered animals, plants, sites and cultures. She currently serves as a research associate at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.